Birds flying high…

you know how I feel

soaring white pelicans black and white

Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain.

Douglas Coupland

What a beautiful sight to see. These giant birds soaring high up in the thermals.

Photographs so often trigger memories and I was reminded of a summer day in Miami training with my Search and Rescue team. I was “dogless” as I was still waiting for my bloodhound to be shipped down from Washington state so my assignment was to join a member of the ultralight team that we had partnered with to fly in an ultralight.

We had staged a missing person scenario and I would be spotting from the air and reporting back to our dog teams.

It turned out to be an amazing experience and as I watched the pelicans high above me I had just the slightest sense of their freedom.

This weekend is a special one and I’ll take this as a sign!

The loneliness…

paradox.


The sky is one whole, the water another; and between those two infinities the soul of man is in loneliness.

Henryk Sienkiewicz

Loneliness is an interesting paradox that doesn’t always look like we imagine it would look when observing it from the outside.

It’s an all too common experience that isn’t alleviated by merely living with someone. Findings by neuroscientist John T Cacioppo in Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection indicate that long term loneliness can be as harmful to your health as smoking and obesity. Some of the side effects? Impairment of thinking, willpower, and perseverance which only serve to reinforce the feelings of rejection and isolation.

Not to be confused with solitude, something that I personally value as a time for reflection and recharging, loneliness can often feel worse when it occurs with-in a relationship.

The complexity of this subject begs for more exploration but until then, if you’re feeling lonely, please reach out to someone and let them know.

Scars…

from a different viewpoint.


All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

Anatole France

On a recent flight my seatmate was a woman slightly older than myself but as you do in close quarters, we began to chat. Summing up your life history in a few short sentences is somewhat freeing. Each time you share your story, even if it’s with someone you’re likely never to see again, it opens the door to healing scars that may not be visible from the outside.

Gazing out over the mountains below she spoke with regret of the place where she had gotten married, a place that I have been to on several occasions and each time have been seduced by its beauty.

You see it burned in the fall of 2017, 19,303 hectares in the park itself. She said it was now ugly, it would never be the same, and she likely would not return. I was surprised by that reaction, so at odds with my own. I shared some images with her that I had taken over the last two years but where I saw signs of strength and survival she saw only haunting scars.

She’s a breast cancer survivor and I couldn’t help but wonder what she feels about herself when she confronts a mirror. When I see scars, especially devastating ones, I always think of the strength that it must have taken to push beyond that and to survive.

Change is a good thing. It gives us the opportunity to create a new narrative and to perhaps do a better job when we tell the next story.

Be optimistic, be brave, and most of all be kind.


Is it art…

just because we say it’s so?

DSC_1027-Edit-EditBefore the people at large, and for that matter, the artists themselves, understand what photography really means, as I understand that term, it is essential for them to be taught the real meaning of art.

Alfred Stieglitz

Had some interesting conversations lately about art; what it is and what it is not.

Is it the piece of dryer lint tied with thread and given space at a gallery? Or perhaps it’s the old sheet hung on the wall with a word written on it? Is it assembly line production of paper and glue?

Is it art because it matches your sofa cushions? Is it art because you cut an old RV in half and applied social commentary to it? Does the quality of the material used elevate the work?

The very definition of art, the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination would lead me to believe that there are more components involved than the simple desire to be called an artist.

Recent art exhibits seemed to be accompanied by lengthy bios on the artist and the creative process that resulted in some of the exhibits mentioned above leading me to wonder is it art if it has to be explained to you in advance of the viewing?

For me whatever I’m looking at, my own work or that of others, first and foremost it has to evoke some sort of emotion and secondly the creation of the piece has to have some component of skill and intention involved.

Art or craft…always a hot topic. I’m grateful for artists like Stieglitz who paved the way for photography as an art form.

There was a man with great passion, talent, and intention and I would have loved to shadow him for just one day as he worked.

Who moves you? What motivates you to create and not just replicate?

Nature’s magnificence…

and coming back.

DSC_0446-Edit-2-Edit-3I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of the place could be photographed.

Annie Leibovitz

This week has been a reminder of and an eye-opener to the scars that we bear.

This stand of trees still soars majestically skyward but bore not the brightly colored leaves of autumn, only blackened trunks and open wounds from the Kenow fire that swept through last year.

I find myself listening more and looking beyond the outer shells.

I find myself more willing to speak openly and wonder if that energy is being felt.

I find myself coming back.

One really big reason…

to follow your passion.

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To know ahead of time what you’re looking for means you’re then only photographing your own preconceptions, which is very limiting, and often false.

Dorothea Lange

This blog post is number one hundred which for me feels like I’m just hitting my stride. For almost two years now I have been taking the time to look and think about one image and the process has been an interesting one for me.

I write a lot about passion and creativity and how to keep that flowing when so much in life can act as a roadblock.

I don’t often feel the need to write about the technical aspects of photography; you can already find enough about that online to keep you reading for a lifetime. The question that I’m asked about most is how to build creativity. My own experience would tell me that if you’re bored with or stagnant in your medium it might not be the right one for you.

The challenge as I see it lies in developing a creative zone that extends far beyond the reach of a camera. It’s rather like shovelling the sidewalk during a winter storm; doing it once is not enough. Steady, continuous work is needed to keep that path open.

Just like muscle memory that is developed while practicing a sport, you can develop a rhythm with your camera that allows you to focus on the subject matter if you make it a part of your daily routine.

Developing a rhythm is the first step towards developing a style. Choosing subject matter that inspires you makes it easier to pick up that camera on a daily basis.

For example, on my canine shoots I will go in knowing the feel that I want for the images but I will try not to have any preconceived ideas on how I will get that. Structure to me is the death of creativity. I know that this approach works for me because the instant that I start moving around and shooting I am in the zone and it doesn’t really matter if I’m photographing a dog, piece of sky, or a snowflake.

All of this doesn’t just happen though, it takes practice and a first important step is being comfortable with your equipment so that you can focus on the creative aspect.

Today’s image is of subject matter near and dear to my heart…dogs. During the past few weeks I have had the absolute pleasure of photographing several groups of dogs, in various life stages. The energy, connections with their owners, and sheer joy these animals showed was incredible.

Will my style of shooting appeal to everyone? Nope, there are those that would prefer a backdrop and a stiff dog with every hair sharply in focus. I wouldn’t be happy and in my zone capturing that type of image but there’s room for all types.

Once you figure out the answer to this question “I like to shoot images that are…” it helps to define that creative zone and allows you to build on it.

If you’re completely stuck answering that question spend some time looking at all mediums; online, at museums or galleries, and see what you are drawn to. Think about how you can infuse that feeling into your medium of choice. I’m not talking about copying, I’m talking about putting yourself into the medium, there’s a big difference.

Love to hear your experiences on developing creativity. What has worked for you?

Thank you to all who follow this blog, I so appreciate it.

And thank you to Earl, how gorgeous is he?

Atmosphere…

and creativity.

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Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.

Ansel Adams

Many years ago I had family portraits done with my husband and two mastiffs. I treasure that memory but can’t help thinking how sterile and posed the image is.

It was out of that thought that the idea to photograph dogs in their own environment, just being dogs, was born.

It’s a challenging adventure kind of like those cooking shows where you open up a box of ingredients and have to make something amazing out of it. In this instance though you’re handed dogs and whatever weather conditions the day brings, and from that you need to create a group of images that hopefully capture the spirit of those animals. It’s real and unscripted and each shoot is different from the one before.

I think of photography as a language from which you develop your own accent and cadence. It takes awhile to learn what that might look like for you but I believe that it can only be accomplished by diving in and shooting every day under all conditions.

It’s an incredibly creative medium and one that I think it’s essential to develop your own voice for.

Will everyone like your work? Certainly not but in time you will develop a style of shooting that becomes more distinctive to you and with that knowledge it becomes easier to take whatever photographic opportunities that come your way and make the most of them.

On this day the ground had a layer of frost and as the sun hit it, it began to steam giving me nature’s version of a smoke machine. I couldn’t have scripted that and it lent such a beautiful, soft atmosphere to the shoot.

Have you picked up your camera today? Maybe you should…